To this day the second season of Digimon, known as Digimon Adventure 02 in Japan, is divisive. Some love how it expanded the world of Digimon and gave us a look into how the original characters aged up. Others aren’t fans of how the series handled its overall plot and that the new characters couldn’t hold up to the originals. The new character that received the most criticism was Davis, the new leader of the team. He’s loud, obnoxious, spends way too much time trying to hit on Kari, and generally just makes a fool of himself. Why is this guy the new leader? Why would Tai give HIM the goggles, the de facto sign of a Digimon leader?
Why wasn’t T.K. the leader? After all, he had more experience with the Digimon since he was part of the original team in season one. He was much more relaxed, personable, and able to take on problems intelligently instead of stumbling into them face first. On the flipside he did have a dark serious streak thanks to the trauma of his previous adventures but that just adds to the cool factor a leader needs, right? Also his Digimon, Patamon, could digivolve into Angemon and then MagnaAngemon, two of the most powerful Digimon of their levels.
So this leads us to wonder, what would the adventures of Digimon season 2 been like if T.K. was the leader instead of Davis? Right off the bat you would have had that sweet undercurrent of ANGST with T.K. in the lead role. While usually pretty even keeled, T.K. had a few moments in season two as aired where his experience with darkness from season one overwhelmed him. These moments, such as when T.K. faced off against BlackWarGreymon which exposed his trauma relating to Devimon. would have had a bigger impact on the show if T.K. was the leader. Especially when it comes to Ken/The Digimon Emperor.
In the original season two Ken and Davis were somewhat rivals and eventually put aside their pasts and became the two leads of the series, akin to Tai and Matt from the first season. As fun as it was to see the hot-headed Davis take on the cool but evil Ken, making T.K. Ken’s rival would have led to a mountain of possibilities. As mentioned above, T.K. was scarred by darkness. He, a small child, watched his Digimon effectively get killed by Devimon. This led to T.K. burying his darker impulses and pushing up his kinder side. Pitting that against Ken, a boy wracked with his own childhood trauma and guilt, could have kept the season going all on its own.
T.K., desperately trying not to dip into the darkness that’s haunted him for so long, and Ken, who wholeheartedly embraced the darkness to escape his pain. Watching T.K. hate Ken at first but, thanks to bonding over their shared trauma, pull Ken out of the darkness? That makes way more sense than Ken having to share so much screen time with Davis. Plus, then we’d get to see what DNA Digivolution of Stingmon and Angemon would have been. A bug and an angel? The possibilities for great combos are endless!
This angst and backstory could have also been utilized in Digimon: The Movie. The new character in the third part of the film, Willis, had his own angst about creating a Digimon that was hurting people. T.K.’s past with evil Digimon could have helped the two bond, with T.K. knowing what it was like to lose a Digimon of his own along with seeing what happened to Tai when Agumon turned into SkullGreymon. At the very least, T.K. crying at Willis’ story would have made far more narrative sense then Davis’ crying spree in the film as is. T.K. being the leader would have made Digimon: The Movie somehow even more flawless than it already is!
More screen time for T.K. in the central role could also mean more screen time for Kari! While you’d wish Kari could have gotten more screen time simply because she was a great character, the show frequently paired her and T.K. up. With T.K. now the leader Kari would at least get more time to shine alongside him. Which could mean that Kari’s connection to the Dark Ocean, famously unexplained and left open in the original season two, would have had a chance to play out over more than one episode.
T.K. also would have been the one to receive the Digi-Egg of Friendship, which feels far more appropriate than Davis getting it. After all, the Crest of Friendship belonged to his brother Matt so T.K. using it to power up Patamon would have had extra weight in the story. This also means Matt could have shown up more and who doesn’t love the idea of getting more of Matt, his fabulous hair, and his band who needed more than one song.
With all this new focus on T.K. that doesn’t mean Davis wouldn’t exist in this new version of season two. He would, but he’d be regulated to the comedic sidekick role. This would make his over the top actions much easier to stomach since they wouldn’t have happened with such frequency. His attempts to hit on Kari also would be downplayed; T.K. and her more clearly set up as a couple just waiting to happen (although, again, Kari deserves more stories on her own.)
Perhaps most importantly, the audience would have been warmer to the show. Despite carrying over much of the cast of season one, season two of Digimon is still a big shift with the three new leads getting a lot of screen time in the early episodes. This may have caused some fans to tune out, not enjoying the big shift in the status quo. If T.K. had been set up as leader from the start, perhaps the audience would have been willing to stick around; a familiar face guiding them through this new story.
With T.K. smoothing over the transition and adding numerous chances for powerful stories, Digimon season two as a whole could have been much stronger than what we got. On the other hand, maybe it would have been all the same and T.K. would have suddenly turned into the very Shonen protagonist that Davis was clearly modeled after. T.K.’s personality could have made an about face and he’d be annoying and loud, explained away as new traits he picked up over the years between the seasons. If you thought fans didn’t like Davis, imagine the reaction to T.K. acting like Davis did!
No matter which way you look at it, Digimon season two would have been a radically different series with T.K. as the lead. More angst, more connections to the past, and more focus on Kari along the way. Does this mean it would have been better than the season two we got? That’s up to the individual person but we can say for certain that goggles would have looked way better on T.K. than that bucket hat he had in season two. Come on, man. Get your fashion game together! Bucket hats are a fad, goggles are forever!